Telecommunications Goals for Public Higher Education
While each of the institutions of Rhode Island higher education has demonstrated
impressive uses of information technology, these are scattered and uneven and appear
to be largely dependent on how skilled some individuals are at grant writing. Institutional
goals are not apparent. We see them as essential. Thanks for many of the ideas used
here is owed to the University Communications and Computing Committee's
Recommendations that were distributed following our October meeting. Other ideas come
from an article by Gregorian, Hawkins and Taylor, "Integrating Information Technologies:
A Research University Perspective." Cause/Effect, Winter 1992. Further ideas came from
presentations made to the committee by representatives of CCRI, RIC and URI.
Proceed to next section
- An Information Society.
We are in the midst of a fundamental transition from an industrial to an information
society. Many have postulated that information will be the critical asset of the 21st
century. The ability to quickly search, find, manipulate, and present information will
be a required skill. Technology of various sorts including computing, networking,
telecommunications, imaging and video will be used to support these activities.
Rhode Island's public colleges and university must move quickly to provide faculty,
staff and students with access to these technologies if they are to remain
competitive with their peers. This will not only advance the principal missions of our
institutions of higher learning -- education, research and public outreach -- but will
also enhance their contributions to the state's economic development.
- Campus Information Infrastructure.
Each institution needs a campus-wide information infrastructure that will make
information available universally within its institutional community. This will be
required to ensure productivity comparable with peer institutions. The system must
be functional, flexible, expandable, reliable, secure, easy to use and compatible with
standards of use within the college and research communities. Information
technology should be regarded as a basic resource of academic life at each
- Financial Support.
Strategies must be developed to provide the institutions of higher education with the
resources necessary to acquire, modernize and support information technology.
The information infrastructure is a new type of infrastructure at the institutions --
similar in function to the physical plant. The maintenance and upgrading of
telecommunications and computing networks cannot be deferred without immediate
consequences. In order for the state to get any return from the needed capital
investment, funding must be provided for ongoing support, including maintenance,
support personnel, and training. If the ongoing support infrastructure is not funded,
little benefit will accrue from the capital outlays.
- Access to Information.
Information, both within the institution and outside it in the world at large, must be
available to people when they need it in the form they need it. Any user should
have access to reports, schedules, the library and bulletin boards in the institution
and in other institutions, as well as the Internet and other outside information
- Institutional Interconnection.
Priority should be given to interconnecting the systems of CCRI, RIC and URI.
Autonomy does not have to mean isolation. A single, fully compatible, online
information system should be developed that could be used by all three institutions.
This system should be designed to provide easy access to a broad selection of
instructional and information resources and services. It should serve as a gateway
to an information rich environment. The interconnection should also extend to all
common administrative functions such as reporting requirements in the financial,
procurement and personnel areas.
While libraries are already steps ahead of other information services on our
campuses in the identification of available information to patrons through the HELIN
system, sufficient resources should be provided to allow document delivery systems
to be improved. The spirit of cooperation among the libraries of both public and
private institutions in the state is remarkable and should be emulated by other
segments of the higher education community.
- Teacher Training.
As we rethink the curricula and integrate the new technologies into the classroom,
we must strive to educate our teachers at all levels, kindergarten through higher
education, in the potential and use of information technologies. This capacity
building effort should extend to both those in the classrooms today as well as
teachers in training, so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities that
- Long-Range Planning.
Information technology cannot simply be integrated into an institution's long-range
planning -- it affords opportunities to rethink core assumptions and strategies. The
entire educational system must understand that society is being transformed from
an industrial to an information base. Technological innovation has created many
of the opportunities within this transformation. The system, and each institution,
must take advantage of these opportunities/technologies to enhance and promote
the mission and identity of each institution.
- Public Responsibility.
In developing the communications infrastructure the institutions must position
themselves to be able to fully participate in any statewide information technology
effort that may be developed.
Return to Table of Contents